By on March 4, 2013

It’s an Audi, what do you expect?

TrueDelta recently updated the stats from its Car Reliability Survey to include all of 2012. Unless the car in question is a 2010 model (covered by J.D. Power’s VDS), statistics that indicate how it has been holding up since last April aren’t available anywhere else. Put another way, we’re currently eight months ahead of the folks with the new auto issue.

Among fairly new cars, so few received red “sad faces” (for an especially high reported repair frequency) this time around that we can cover them all here.

2013 – Ford Escape

2012 – None

2011 – None

2010 – Jaguar XF, Mercedes GLK, Hyundai Genesis, GM large crossovers, Ford Taurus

2009 – Cadillac CTS, Jaguar XF, Ford Flex

2008 – GM large crossovers, BMW 335i

2007 – Nissan Murano

Even among the cars in this bunch, none averaged over one repair trip per car last year, and most didn’t come close. Granted, the stats cover 60 to 70 models per year, not all of them. This list would be longer if we had more responses for certain Europeans. If four more owners of the 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class had reported in, its stat would have been well over 100 repair trips per 100 cars. If you’re concerned about reliability (not everyone is), you don’t want one of these.

The doors fit just fine on this press car…

Many reported problems are minor–for any of our stats you can click a link to view the repairs behind it. The 2013 Ford Escape is in the “dirty dozen” because of common problems with door and hatch alignments. The 2010 Ford Taurus makes this list because, even after three years of replacements, the chrome trim keeps peeling off the tail lights of enough cars. Some owners have had the assemblies replaced three or four times.

The 2010 Hyundai Genesis has had moderately serious problems with its fuel pump (V8 engine), plus the power tilt adjuster for the steering column and the power seat controls. To avoid a sad face with the 2009 CTS, skip the sunroof. The 2007 Nissan Murano commonly has problems with its front suspension (as does the 2006).

We could move the goalposts to force more models into the sad group, but we don’t want to put a sad face on cars whose owners are usually quite happy. For 2011 and newer cars, the dividing lines between a green :) and a yellow :| is around 30 repair trips per 100 cars per year, while that between a yellow :| and a red :( is about 60 repair trips per 100 cars per year. Most newish cars are under 30 per 100, and consequently get happy green faces next to their scores.

At the other end of the scale, we have some models for which absolutely no repairs were reported last year.

2013 – Audi A4 et al. (29 cars)

2012 – Honda CR-V (58 cars), Subaru Forester (33), Toyota Prius c (30)

2010 – Lexus RX (30 cars)

The 2013 Audi isn’t a fluke–both the 2011 and 2012 also have been faring well, with scores in the 20s.

Some other models came close to perfect records. If one more 2012 Rogue owner had responded and reported no repairs, the Nissan would be in this group. Only a single repair was reported for the 2013 Focus, 2012 C-Class, 2012 LEAF, 2012 Prius, 2012 Sienna, 2011 GM large SUVs, 2010 Corolla, 2009 Rogue, and 2008 IS.

Among notable new models, the 2013 Mazda CX-5 barely retained its happy face despite multiple reports of fluttering hoods, vibrating mirrors, and rattling instrument panels. [Update: One late report of a vibrating mirror has pushed it over the edge.] The 2013 Toyobaru FRZ and 2012 FIAT 500 are deep in the yellow. The former has common problems with a chirping fuel pump and tail lamp condensation, while the latter has common problems with defective manifold bolts that cause oil leaks and an iffy Bluetooth module.

You thought people bought them for how they look or drive?

A single problem that affects most cars will mean the difference between a great score and a bad one, not only with this car reliability survey but with any of them. TrueDelta’s stats suggest manufacturers are doing a very good job of catching and fixing problems before they can become common. With a different reporting system that forced a certain percentage of cars to have bad scores, this would be less obvious.

TrueDelta will update its car reliability stats again in May. The more people participate, the more models we can cover and the more precise these stats will be.

To view the stats for a particular model, and the specific repairs behind the stats:

Car Reliability Survey results

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, which covers car reliability, real-world fuel economy, feature-adjusted price comparisons, and why (not) reviews.

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85 Comments on “Updated Car Reliability Survey Stats – All Of 2012...”


  • avatar

    Question, Are vehicles getting better?

    • 0 avatar

      In terms of mechanical reliability, cars are clearly getting better. They do require more software updates than they used to, partly because their electronic systems are far more complicated and software-driven, but we don’t count these as repairs as long as they’re free.

      If you’re 35 or older, you probably remember when a new car always always required a few minor repairs immediately after delivery. Having these performed with the initial oil change was just something you expected to do, the only question being how many minor repairs were needed. This is what J.D. Power’s IQS was originally designed to measure.

      As noted in this report, we have some car models where dozens of owners required no repairs at all in the first few months or even the first full year of ownership.

      Even looking back to when I started conducting this survey, in 2006, we had a number of models with repair frequencies over 100 per 100 cars. This seemed a reasonable dividing line between acceptable and awful. Now we’re essentially saying this line is around 60 per 100 cars, and few are over that mark.

      If a car repair was a potentially life-altering experience, like a serious car accident can be, then the argument could be made that we should keep lowering the bar to put a certain percentage of cars in the “bad” category. But I started this survey to put car reliability in perspective, so I wouldn’t feel right doing this.

      I think it’s important to know which cars are truly bad. But unless someone puts a very high priority on having virtually no repairs, once the repair frequency is fairly low it’s probably time to look at other things when deciding which car to buy.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        “They do require more software updates than they used to, partly because their electronic systems are far more complicated and software-driven, but we don’t count these as repairs as long as they’re free.”

        I see a problem here: real problems can exist–bigger than door fits & chrome trim–and if the car maker claims the fix is an “update,” then the problem doesn’t get counted.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          To a large extent I understand why firmware upgrades are not counted as repairs or breakdowns. It’s a constant tweaking of the performance envelope.

          For instance, the 2011 and early 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee was plagued by rough running when first started on a cold morning, at high altitude. A friend of mine has one that was made in Aug 11 and sold as a 2012. He had that problem since day one.

          After going on Jeep.com he found that there was a software upgrade available for the engine management module that remedied that and he asked the local dealer if they would upgrade his under warranty. Which they did, free of charge.

          The end result is a much smoother and better running engine. So it was a refinement more than a repair.

          A side benefit was that the engine will now run smoothly on 86-octane gasoline. Before that upgrade it required 89-octane or better.

          Our 2012 Grand Cherokee must have already had that upgrade installed because we never had any problems.

          But we run 92-octane or better because the difference is noticeably better than 86 or 89 octane. It takes much less gas pedal to move away from a dead stop on 92 than it does on 86 or 89.

        • 0 avatar

          We don’t care what they call it. If it’s software and free, we don’t count it. If there was a perceived problem with the car, and a part was either adjusted or replaced, and the problem went away, we do count it.

          Software is tricky because changing it is so much cheaper than changing hardware, and it’s going to get much cheaper still when updates can be done without the dealer.

          Granted, there will always be some gray areas. We discussed one case recently on TrueDelta’s Facebook page. But these involve a very small percentage of the total repairs reported.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            I think it’s fair to exclude software upgrades as many manufacturers have dealer techs update the modules if there is an update available automatically.

            That same update may be related to a complaint or TSB, but most owners won’t know the difference and won’t even know that it was done.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Ford cars got much better when Michael Karesh decided that problems fixed with software updates were no problems at all, no matter the inconveniences suffered by the people that bought them. The irony of him operating a website that alleges to be a reliability resource as he covers Ford’s tracks and carries out his vendetta against the most reliable makers is vast.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Consumer Reports has actually reported that the increasingly more frequent problems with Ford vehicles center around motors (ecoboost ones, from the 1.6 liter to the 3.7 liter), the Ford Powershift (and Getrag MT-82 in the Mustang, I might add) transmission, cooling systems, etc.

        The full black and half black Consumer Reports circles are piling up for Ford vehicles on both an absolute and relative basis.

        Whether one chooses to give credibility to Consumer Reports or not is their choice, but they’re reporting that many Ford vehicles suffer from reliability and durability issues regarding very fundamental and critical components, not merely electronic/MFT ones, as Michael appears to claim in this latest article.

        The “Ford is suffering a bad reputation as of late because of MyFordTouch” is a massive myth & is probably a misconception that actually comes as a relief to the executive at Ford.

        And no one can credibly deny that Consumer Reports data is culled from hundreds of thousands of owner responses on an annual basis (millions in the aggregate), while it’s my understanding is that True Delta has a smaller response rate, by comparison.

        I’m NOT saying True Delta does not employ or utilize credible scientific statistical sampling methodology in tabulating reliability data; I’m only stating that it’s my current understanding that True Delta has a smaller amount of data available with which to tabulate reliability data compared to CR.

        IF I AM WRONG in this regard, I am sure that Michael Karesh will let me know.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          This latest stunt to allow Ford to retain the illusion of mediocrity was all it took to keep me from bothering to enter the 2012 CR-V or 2012 A6 that I could have added to True Delta’s database last year. Anyone interested in unfiltered data can have it here though: Honda good, Audi bad. The Audi dealer is better, but that hardly makes up for one dealer caused issue(state inspection sticker over exterior light sensor) v. constant quality headaches from Germany.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            “(state inspection sticker over exterior light sensor)”

            Isn’t the exterior light sensor in the rear view mirror? How would the dealer put the state inspection sticker between the windshield and the rear view mirror’s mount?

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I think that is only for the auto-dimming rear view mirror. The sensor our dealer blocked was at the base of the windshield. It is connected to the climate control system.

        • 0 avatar
          th009

          The truedelta site says 40,000 cars, not quite minuscule. My stats course is so far in the mists of the past that I can’t remember how to calculate the confidence intervals for the two.It surely won’t be 10:1 though.

          The other factor is that truedelta reminds its members to enter repair trips immediately whereas CR relies on annual surveys, which in turn rely on the owner’s memory.

          Finally, I personally like the details available in the truedelta data.

          None of the surveys (truedelta, CR, JD Power) are perfect, and they are best used in combination. But I think truedelta has the most transparency as far as seeing the underlying data. Take a look for yourself …

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            It took me quite a few words to do so, but I stated that Consumer Reports has a far larger survey base, and that Consumer Reports reliability data, from what I’ve read, diverges from True Delta’s.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            th009, I agree that they are best used in combination.

            However, for my own applications I gravitate towards CR because CR does not take any money other than from subscribers, like myself. I like that concept.

            To me that means more credible ratings than from sites that have to accept advertising to remain operating.

            CR has been criticized in the past for being too harsh on certain brands, like trying to flip a Suzuki in a handling test for instance, or being too easily impressed by products from Toyota or Honda, but by and large, CR’s ratings have worked for me and millions like me.

          • 0 avatar
            th009

            @DeadWeight, yes, you did. And I pointed out that while CR’s sample size is maybe 10x, it won’t drop the numbers as much: the confidence interval for the annual repair rate for a given car might change from 20% to 6%, for example. The much bigger factor is the individual model, as less popular models will have less statistically significant data regardless of whether you look at CR, truedelta or JD Power.

            In any case, we are all free to look at just a single source, or base our decisions on multiple ones. I will give some weight to them all as not only do their sample sizes differ, but so do their survey methodologies and the information they provide.

          • 0 avatar
            th009

            @highdesertcat, yes, advertising is one potential source of bias.

            Of course that puts most of the world’s newspapers, print magazines and web sites at risk of advertising-driven bias as they accept advertising (and TTAC is no different there).

        • 0 avatar

          Deadweight,

          Our response RATE (percentage of members responding) is much higher than CR’s. They have a larger number of responses.

          Precision increases with the square root of the sample size. So, all else being the same, a minimum sample size of 100 (CR’s) buys you double the precision of a minimum sample size of 25 (ours). But, as I’ve written here before, CR squanders an often (but not always) much larger sample size by asking a very badly worded question, relying too much on people to remember things that happened a year ago, splitting hairs, etc.

          This probably explains why the 2012 A6 has an “average” reliability rating, while the 2012 A7 is “much better than average.” They’re the same car, only a sedan vs. a hatchback. TrueDelta combines them both in the same sample. They were better than average for a while (splitting the difference between CR’s ratings), but are about average with the recent update.

          There’s advertising, and there’s advertising. TrueDelta has no direct contact with advertisers. Our ads are managed by third parties, such as Google Adsense. They don’t inform us who buys the ads, and we don’t ask. I don’t know if advertisers are even aware their ads appear on our site.

      • 0 avatar

        CJinSD,

        We stopped counting free software updates when they first started being reported in a noticeable volume, over five years ago. This isn’t a recent change, and was made long before anyone had heard of MFT.

        You’re also conveniently forgetting that I posted on both the TrueDelta site and here at TTAC about Ford’s slipping reliability–charging that MFT was something of a scapegoat for broader problems–long before CR started saying the same. They’re noting Audi’s improvement this year. We reported this much sooner as well. Their data lags ours by a year, so their reliability news is never actually new.

        Put another way, CR has no idea how either Ford or Audi cars have been doing since last April. Few people seem to realize this, though. It’s in a new magazine, so it must be based on recent data, right?

        Article on Ford quality from July 2011, which links to some even earlier articles:

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/ford-quality-is-job-one-again/

  • avatar
    celebrity208

    Michael, how does dealer provided service figure into the repair data? That is, if people drop their BMW off for an oil change and get a loaner (a common practice) are other things being fixed that the owner isn’t noticing let alone reporting to True Delta?

    • 0 avatar

      Some people have mentioned this possibility, though never about a specific car, much less their own. I hear so often about cases where the dealer won’t fix a problem the owner is complaining about, that I find it hard to believe dealers are systematically fixing things without telling the owner.

      If a repair is entirely preventive–there’s no sign of a problem yet, just a likely future problem–we don’t count the repair regardless. It’s more than okay with me if manufacturers and/or dealers want to fix a problem before it happens, at little or no inconvenience and no cost to the owner, in order to improve their reliability stats. Who wouldn’t want to encourage this?

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “If a repair is entirely preventive–there’s no sign of a problem yet, just a likely future problem–we don’t count the repair regardless.”

        Audi has been good about this in recent years. They are very good with their TSBs.

        It’s also hard for many people to separate dealer vs. brand/car. So many people, even on TTAC, say “I’ll never buy a [brand] because of how the dealership treated me [insert rant here].”

        • 0 avatar

          Why would one want to separate the dealer from the brand? The manufacturer has the control and responsibility. That understanding is exactly why Lexus owners buy ownership experience and not merely a car. Manufactures tying their vehicles to their own network by ways of sophisticated electronics do it on purpose and have to be kept accountable for the consequences.

          • 0 avatar

            Especially for brands that have been around since well before 1990, control over the dealer is far from total. They can strongly influence the dealer through various (usually gameable) bonus schemes, but there’s very little they can force the dealer to do.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            Because I prefer talking to real actual mechanics instead of sales people who pretend to know technical things? I go to the stealership for service only during the warranty period because they tend to do TSBs, silent recalls, and random updates (such as software) for free during the maintenance (and in some cases, the maintenance was already included). After that, why would I ever bother being tied to the stealership?

            Yes, the manufacturer has heightened responsibility, but there are also shitty dealers and good dealers. If you live in a big metro area, you know the difference.

            But you can’t pretend that the service department and the car salesmen are one and the same. At some dealers, the service department is competent and the salesman are jerkoffs, and at others, it’s the reverse. People often believe that one implies the other, but it’s not true.

            People on TTAC say all the time, “the salesman at X dealership was snooty/rude/etc, so I went across the street to another brand and bought their car.” Some people fundamentally find cars fungible and treat them as appliances.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        It depends on the problem. A dealer tech will gladly replace something that pays good. There are plenty of things I will fix if I see it it during a service.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “That is, if people drop their BMW off for an oil change and get a loaner (a common practice) are other things being fixed that the owner isn’t noticing let alone reporting to True Delta?”

      That is happening for Toyota and Honda for sure. For example, if you look more carefully at Toyonda owners’ 30K, 60K, and 90K major service intervals (and maybe 45/75), you will often find things on the invoice that weren’t just routine maintenance. This is how a Civic lost to an Audi in dollar-for-dollar through 100K maintenance/service comparison I did.

      • 0 avatar

        These are free things on the invoice, or services the dealer charged the owner for? Can you provide specific examples?

        Many dealers will claim that an X-mile service should include items that aren’t in the factory maintenance schedule. They count on many customers to assume that whatever the dealer says should be done is what the manufacturer says should be done.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          For specific examples, I don’t know if I have the invoices any more because the car was sold. I’ll see if the owner has copies.

          It wasn’t something that the dealer would have considered as part of their “premium service” or whatever. Lots of luxury car dealers run this scam — particularly Infiniti who lists their premium service schedule vs. regular service schedule in their maintenance books.

          Under the warranty years, it would have been stuff fixed under warranty, so for free. In non-warranty years, it would usually be stuff the dealer or indy shop charged for. I’m sure they checked with the owner before doing the work, but the owner just said, “sure sure sure” and assumed that a major service would include a lot of stuff and pays the bill without thinking their car had a problem.

          This story has been repeated to be numerous times with Toyondas where people have gotten non-standard repairs done during a scheduled major service. Car seems transparently “reliable” due to unscheduled service performed with scheduled service.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            A dollar-for-dollar comparison of maintenance costs involving a European car would have to account for the fact that many European marques offer free regular maintenance for the first few years of ownership, if I recall correctly.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            Yes, and when I did my comparison, I accounted for the fair market value of pre-paid maintenance if any (Audi does not offer this by default any more). Note, as I’ve always said, that the Audi would have needed a timing belt at 110K, so it would move ahead at that point, but not by a huge amount.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        I’ve bought Hondas since the mid-1980s, and have always checked the service invoice to determine exactly what the dealer did and whether there was a charge for it. The dealers are not slipping non-routine items on to the bill without the owners noticing. (Also note that the dealers will call the owner if the car requires specific repairs that aren’t part of the regular factory maintenance.) I seriously doubt that owners are not noticing the problems.

        The experience with our cars, and the cars of friends and family members, is that the survey results in Consumer Reports and True Delta do track the real-world experiences of owners closely. Hondas and Toyotas really are the most reliable cars, with VWs and Chryslers bringing up the rear.

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          Many owners won’t notice problems with there cars. Even my dad used to not notice problems with his cars. Before he bought his Honda, I would always notice something new wrong with his car whenever I drove it.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            Agreed. I’ve driven many of these cars where people didn’t even notice some vibration/noise/clunking, and yes some of these are Toyondas.

            As I have mentioned before, I occasionally diagnose people’s cars by noise alone when I’m a pedestrian, and the diagnosis has only gotten more frequent during this current Great Recession where there appears to be more and more deferred maintenance.

            As I’ve also mentioned, there’s no way in hell that TTACers are driving Toyondas with only gas, oil, and brake pads. There are definitely broken things at 120K/150K/180K, they are just willfully or unknowingly ignoring them. For example, CV joints don’t last forever, and neither do all suspension components (as the recent Lexus RX300 thread showed).

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            The people who “forget” or gloss over repair items tend to be domestic loyalists and owners of European brands.

            A very large percentage of brand-new European vehicles are leased, and turned in for a brand-new one before the warranty ends. As used vehicles, then tend to be bought by people who do their own work, know an independent mechanic who specializes in that marque, or suck up any repair costs for the prestige associated with driving one of those brands.

            As for the domestics, a friend has a 2000 Buick Park Avenue with less than 90,000 miles that just required another $1,000 in non-scheduled maintenance repairs, and my parents’ 2004 Oldsmobile Bravada with 96,000 just needed a $2,300 repair to the engine.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            “The people who “forget” or gloss over repair items tend to be domestic loyalists and owners of European brands.”

            From my experience, the people who forget or gloss over repair tend to be those most likely to treat a car like an appliance. I don’t get the oil changed on my toaster every 5,000 toasts.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            Every indepedent mechanic I’ve talked to, along with an investigator for Pennsylvania’s largest lemon-law firm, has told me the same thing.

            Honda and Toyota are tops for reliability, followed by GM and Ford, then the best of the Europeans, with VW, Land Rover, Jaguar and Chrysler last.

            The “appliance buyers” are least likely to gloss over repairs, in my experience, because they don’t want to pay for ANY repairs.

            This is backed up, again, by the person who worked at the lemon-law firm. He said that more Toyota and Honda complaints turned out to be unfounded, because people thought that a dash rattle or uncomfortable front seat meant that the car should be subject to the Pennsylvania lemon law.

            Interestingly, he said that Toyota and Honda were the easiest companies to work with on a case (although “easy” is a relative term – all companies fought lemon-law cases). The worst? Mercedes-Benz, VW and Chrysler. Which is interesting, as those three companies accounted for a disproportionate number of cases (relative to their market share in the state), and the owner’s complaints were more likely to be justified.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Volkswagen of America as a firm should be lemon law’d.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            Geeber – what did you friend say about the other Japanese such as Nissan and Mazda?

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            mike978, I can’t remember what he said about Mazda, but he thought highly of Nissan.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            “The “appliance buyers” are least likely to gloss over repairs, in my experience, because they don’t want to pay for ANY repairs.”

            Hard to believe, because usually they are the ones with the CELs and “maintenance required” lights on when I ride with them.

        • 0 avatar
          zeus01

          Agreed geeber. The truth hurts, and it hurts some more than others. They’ll latch onto any rumor (or even start one) that suggests the reliability percentages for Hondas and Toyotas are somehow rigged.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            Rigged is a strong term. But a good point to be made here is that the spread in reliability is not nearly as big as it used to be. Back in the early 80s there was a real reason why Toyota had a great reputation. But today that difference is a shadow of what it once was. In fact, that great reliability rating of an early 80s Toyota would be pretty poor today. Anybody who bought any car in 1978 was going to have some warranty work done.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          So you are saying that replacing the cam and crank seals, water pump, valve cover gasket, tensioner and idler pulleys and accessory belts every 60K is “routine” maintenance? Granted Honda and Toyota have gotten away from timing belts on many of their more recent vehicles so they don’t have an excuse to do those items like they used to so they could give the owner a $1000+ bill every 60K.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            My 2003 Accord has 192,000 miles on the odometer, and, among the parts you listed, only the accessory belt has been replaced.

            If the service department has been secretly replacing those other parts, that would certainly be news to me, not to mention the dealership’s accountants. I doubt that the dealer would stay in business long if it did that for every customer (this particular dealer has been in business for over 35 years).

            The service manager certainly isn’t sneaking those items on to the bill, as he goes over each item with me before I pay.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I would call that routine maintenance on any car with a timing belt driven water pump. And on my Porsche, it is all that every *30,000* miles, or four years. Plus the balance shaft belt, tensioner, and oil seals. And if you do it, you will never be stranded on the side of the road with a bad water pump, or a belt failure. You will probably never have a mystery oil leak on the garage floor. Maintenance is fixing things BEFORE they cause a problem.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            What moved the Honda a good bit ahead at 100K was the timing belt change. I believe the severe duty schedule is 60K, and the “normal” schedule is 110K. Lots of people do it at about 90K as a result.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    My BMW (328, not 335) has had one unexpected repair in 20 months. (Bad seat control module) It also has needed nothing done at the service. By contrast, while my 08 Saab did not have any unscheduled pit stops, it had a few niggles to be sorted at each of the three services during the time I owned it. Minor stuff, the worst being noisy strut mounts. Just a data point.

    BMW does proactively do software updates at each service. Bound to help given they are quite software dependent.

    Amusingly, both my daily drivers have pending recall work – the BMW for the battery cable to fuse box connection, and the Jeep for faulty airbag wiring or some such. Waiting on notification that the parts are in.

    • 0 avatar

      In five years, ten tops, software updates will be done via a cellular link, automatically (or close to it) and with no dealer involvement. I believe the latest Chrysler uconnect systems have the hardware to enable this, and others probably do as well.

      Ford skipped the dealer with a recent MFT update by sending USB drives with improved software straight to car owners.

      One reason we don’t count software updates is the line between a fix and an upgrade can be quite blurry.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Boy that sounds like its going to cause the aftermarket tuning industry trouble. One of the reasons I skipped over an airbag update for an older car was an issue with the update not being compatible with the tune I had installed (I suppose ironically it was the Ford Racing Performance Parts tune) Evidently when Ford applied the airbag update it would create a no-start situation.

        I can imagine all the trouble this will cause after a vehicle manufacturer does a remote update that is somehow incompatible with the aftermarket tune in a car.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “BMW does proactively do software updates at each service. Bound to help given they are quite software dependent.”

      This is pretty common. For scheduled maintenance on various types of cars, I’ve seen these software updates on the invoice (at no charge under warranty). Especially with the entertainment systems (iDrive, MMI, etc.), I expect this to be more commonplace as Mr. Karesh said.

  • avatar
    Offbeat Oddity

    Impressive stats for the CR-V. I’d have to disagree with the caption, though, since I think they look pretty decent.

    It does seem that even the worst cars today are still pretty reliable, but when it comes to the first year of a new model, I’ll still wait a year before buying, no matter the brand.

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      I agree. Even Land Rovers, the paragon of trash have gotten slightly better. Take the lowest Hyundai Accent and compare it to anything from 20 years ago, the Accent is better by leaps and bounds.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Shout out to the CR-V. Reliable is sexy!

    Thanks for your hard work Michael!

    • 0 avatar

      You’re welcome!

      My problem with the CR-V is that every time I see one I badly want to shave a couple inches off the rear end, and it neither rides nor handles well. But there’s no disputing its stellar reliability year after year.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        In a comparison test with the 2013 CX-5 and the 2013 Fire Escape, Car and Driver said the CR-V had the best ride in its class. In their first test of the 2012 CR-V, they said they were “amazed and heartened that a vehicle that feels so sporty relative to its competitors can consistently outsell all of them.” Mind you Car and Driver didn’t change their standards to allow their favored brands to retain acceptable ratings, so their views may carry more weight than those of certain others.

        • 0 avatar
          hreardon

          My wife’s new CRV is a perfectly comfortable ride, IMO. I actually rather enjoy it. Sure the steering is numb and the interior isn’t quite as hushed as I would prefer, but all in all, she loves the car and I find it a great addition to the stable. My only complaint is the control system Honda uses for the radio/MP3/Bluetooth configuration. It’s not very intuitive and a bit klunky, but otherwise gets the job done.

          For the value, the CRV is incredibly hard to beat.

          • 0 avatar
            dswilly

            Check back in when that CRV gets over 60k on it. My mother-in-law has a loaded 08. When it was new-er I thought it was a nice car. Now that it has a few years on it, the leather has worn poorly, the transmission shifts clunky, engine has that annoying V-tec buzz and the overall integrity is crap. Reliable, I guess so, although I know if the dealer got a hold of it they would find 2k worth of suspension rubber, etc. to ring her for. I had the same experience with our Honda Element, reliable, yes, it started every day, but it turned into a miserable car to live with and deteriorated rapidly after 60k. I ditched it at 115k, when all the dash lights were on and my indie mechanic said some of the fixes (ABS) were Honda only.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Our CR-V is still basically new, but our 2004 TSX has a K-series/5 speed automatic combination and Honda leather. It exhibits none of the traits you mentioned and passengers are surprised to learn that it is an old car.

            The 16,000 mile Audi A6 I drove just yesterday has all the transmission smoothness of Ford Tempo. The most noticeable characteristic of having 8 speeds turned out to be the wear of the undersized parts. The 5-speed in the CR-V is geared far too tall but shifts more intuitively. Then again, most of the time it should be in first, so it doesn’t have much excuse for getting as confused as the ZF in the Audi usually is.

        • 0 avatar

          CJinSD,

          You certainly know how to pick those cherries! Usually you’re quoting CR. Why not this time?

          CR Pros for the Escape: Agility, ride, quietness, solid feel, access.

          CR Pros for the CR-V: Powertrain, fuel economy, braking, rear seat, access, reliability.

          Ride quality is subjective. Personally, I prefer a firm, well-damped ride to a softer one that permits larger body motions. It appears that CR shares my personal preferences, while C&D does not.

          C&D’s original CR-V test would have been written before the new Escape and CX-5 were around. Were they still referring to its handling as sporty in that comparison test?

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            When have I quoted CR? I don’t subscribe to CR, and they’re stingy with their free web content. I’m not sure where I’d get the quotes.

            The CR-V does have a taut ride for a family car, so I think your preferences are whatever it takes to praise your favored brands and plant insidious remarks about their betters like a Media Matters coached writer of a sit com.

          • 0 avatar

            My bad on CR. On that point I was confusing your comments with someone else’s.

            As for favored brands, I honestly don’t feel I have any. Look over all of my reviews, and I think you’ll find I’ve praised and criticized cars from virtually every manufacturer. If there’s one make where every review has been full of either praise or criticism, I’m not aware of it.

            I linked to my early critiques of Ford’s reliability issues in another comment here. If you’re perceiving those as pro-Ford, then you’re clearly not reading what I felt I wrote.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “our 2004 TSX has a K-series/5 speed automatic combination and Honda leather. It exhibits none of the traits you mentioned and passengers are surprised to learn that it is an old car.”

          How gilded some of us are.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I think we got it in late 2003, almost ten years ago. That’s pretty old for a car. There are older cars out there, but how many times do people ride in them and ask if they’re new? I’ve no clue what your gilded standard is, unless you’re saying that we’re so lucky our Acura/Honda didn’t fall apart. That’s probably the most ridiculous interpretation of all, considering Honda has about the best quality perception of any car in the US. If you’re suggesting I’m pretentious because I consider a 2004 car to be old, well you can’t please everyone. I have friends who’ve replaced the cars that replaced the cars that they bought ten years ago. Their cars developed needs that they didn’t care enough to fix and they became unhappy with them. This hasn’t been the case for any of my family’s Hondas.

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    @Highdesertcat said:
    “th009, I agree that they are best used in combination.

    However, for my own applications I gravitate towards CR because CR does not take any money other than from subscribers, like myself. I like that concept.”

    “Choice” a very similar magazine to CR used to do car reviews in Australia, but found too many vested interests made it difficult produce a unbiased report. The NRMA like the AAA in the US does do car reviews and results printed in its magazine its revenue base is subscription focused.

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    Since this site is about the “truth about cars” the truth about reliability statistics is held by the manufacturers. They have the data that compiles the number and frequency of warranty repairs, parts sold and maintenance performed on the vehicles they manufacture.

    CR and True Deltas statistics come from owners that care enough to report which is by far not all the owners of the cars mentioned.

    Maybe someday the data from the manufactures can be known, however I am not going to hold my breath since they sell image as much as they sell cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      “CR and True Deltas statistics come from owners that care enough to report which is by far not all the owners of the cars mentioned.”

      True enough, but why would their cars be any more or less well-built than those owned by people who don’t care? If anything, it would suggest that owners who respond are more likely to keep up on scheduled maintenance, which would be a plus in my book.

  • avatar
    geee

    Well, seein’ as I thought you were going to bash my car since you put a pic of it at top, had to comment. 08 S5 almost five years old now – has 42k on it, and the issues I’ve had were minor, but I dont know how this would rate. In the first year, I had a dash vent rattle – vent was replaced. Right after the 50k/4yr warranty expired, I had a sensor light come on – they replaced it free – would have been $400. Just a few weeks ago, the door would lock, but only blink and click but not unlock when trying to open it by hand. (only opened with the valet key) I think that is it, so it seems to me for the first year make of a new model, not too bad, and I feared more problems at purchase that would have made me sell it before the warranty ran out. Still thinking to do that soon, but since I only put about 4k on it a year now (work at home) it’s not going to get mileage old for a long time.

    • 0 avatar

      Three repairs in five years is, strictly speaking, worse than average and not far from where we’d put a car in the red zone. It’s because this repair frequency often doesn’t seem bad that I’m hesitant to essentially apply a “do not buy” label.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    What!? Absolutely no Volkswagens on the Sad Face List?! How could this be?

    Is it possible that the horrific anecdotal stories of falling-apart Golfs, Jettas, Beetles, and Passats regularly posted by TTAC’s Best and Brightest whenever an article about a VW is published here don’t quite match what is being faithfully recorded by True Delta? Say it ain’t so!

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      No Mopars either.

      I suspect the horror stories are real, just not common. And it wouldn’t surprise me if vehicles with multiple first year problems are often due to a botched initial repair attempt of a single failure.

      • 0 avatar

        We don’t have sufficient data on many Chryslers, so I wouldn’t conclude too much from their absence. Also, as implied in the piece, a car that falls in low end of our “yellow” range will get a half-black or even a full black dot in CR. (For a fairly new car, the difference between “average” and “much worse than average” in CR is less than 10 problems per 100 cars. We can’t shoot that straight. In many cases, neither can they.)

        These lists also focus on 2007 onwards. The VW horror stories tend to be for older cars, especially the choice 2000-2003 era. Though there are some bad ones for recent TDIs.

        Also, one other thing that doesn’t come through in averages is that, while the odds aren’t high, when a European car is bad it can be really, really bad. When a car is really, really bad the owner posts about it on the Internet for years.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          “When a car is really, really bad the owner posts about it on the Internet for years.”

          Noticeably so. Some of the complaints about certain cars on TTAC seem way out of date.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          I joined so I could help build that data with my 2013 Charger. It said you’re not collecting data for 2013s yet because of a lack of population. 6 months, 5500 miles, nothing to report.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    I’m pleasantly surprised by the Audi stats, but they confirm what I’ve been hearing from friends in the industry and dealership networks over the past 18 months: the 2011-2013 models are lightyears ahead of previous model years. Outside of some snafus with a batch of bad 3.2V6 water pumps and and new electro-mechanical steering racks, these cars are holding up remarkably well.

    Knock on wood…

    • 0 avatar

      The water pumps dinged the scores for V6 Audis in our survey for about a year. But those repairs are now more than a year in the past, so they no longer affect our stats.

      The real test for the newest Audis will come when they are 5+ years old. A few times we’ve seen German cars look good for the first few years, then head south.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        This is why it’s probably smart policy, whether TD or CR, to weigh 1 to 3 year old vehicle reliability on an adjusted scale somehow, giving it less weight than years 3 through 10.

        It’s late and I’m not exactly expressing my point that well, but I’m not stating that reliability of newer cars should be ignored, but since newer cars, regardless of the make/model are statistically far less likely to suffer significant reliability issues, vehicles at least 3 years old or older is where the real value comes into play in terms of reporting reliability.

        I’m not sure I’m making any sense.

  • avatar
    chrishs2000

    The benchmark for reliability for me is still “which car can I absolutely avoid entering a stealership with”

    I do all routine maintenance and all repairs on my vehicles. I refuse to take them to the dealer, mostly because I don’t trust the techs to diagnose or fix problems as well as I can and I refuse to pay the exorbitant prices. Of course this is predicated on the repair actually being possible with the correct part and tools, and it being relatively easy to diagnose.

    For that reason alone I refuse to buy used German cars. Say what you want about American and Japanese cars, but they’re honest-to-God simple to diagnose and repair. I’ve never met a Honda with a manual transmission that couldn’t be run to 300k miles with only the simplest of repairs.

    • 0 avatar
      dswilly

      You never met a Honda Element..

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        ” You never met a Honda Element..”

        Ugh I hope I never do. They’re on the list with Azteks.

      • 0 avatar
        LeeK

        My 2006 Honda Element EX-P with manual transmission is now seven years old and has been absolutely flawless over 80,000 miles. I’ve replaced some light bulbs and the battery, but that is it. It’s never seen the dealer or any other repair shop for anything other than oil, fluid, brake pad, and filter changes.

        Is there something I should be worried about?

        I also happen to have another Element in the stable, also a 2006 model, this one with an automatic transmission. It too has been flawless in regards to reliability. It may not be very attractive (granted), but it does the job of providing a high degree of utility with no drama. I don’t think I can ask for any more from a vehicle.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Pretty much all of the entries listed make sense–especially the Jaguar XF–but what happened with the 2007 Nissan Murano? We have a 2005 SL with navigation (but no AWD) and it has been absolutely trouble-free. And if I remember correctly, the 2006 and 2007 models were post-refresh, but had merely cosmetic changes and an updated infotainment system; I don’t remember a front-suspension change. Plus 2007 was the last year of production for the 1st-gen Murano (in 2008, they went straight to the 2nd-gen Murano for MY2009), so you’d think they’d have gotten all of the bugs out.

    I wonder…

    • 0 avatar

      Owners have been reporting a lot of front suspension repairs for the 2006 and 2007 Murano–struts, control arms, wheel bearings, tie-rod ends. The 2005’s reported repair frequency isn’t quite as high, but this might be because our sample size for this year is small.

      The second-generation Murano has a much lower repair frequency so far.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I’m about to do the 30K hemi “Tune-up” on my 2010 Challenger. I was actually pleasantly surprised when the write up guy told me $205 bucks for changing 16 plugs, etc. If my back wasn’t messed up, I would just do it myself. My only fear would be if I broke one or more of the ignition coils, so maybe I would go to the dealer anyway.

    Somehow, as bad as the Toledo area streets are, my car’s somehow avoided the front end problems my ’08 Charger had. It was eating the left tire up very badly when I traded it in. I can’t blame the car for it, I hit some huge craters in the 3 Winters I had it.

    Chrysler doing as badly as it does on some of the surveys surprises me, as my Charger was great, as was my Ram before it. My Challenger lost a sensor, and that’s been it. I have a lot of Chrysler owning friends, and none of us have had any serious issues over the last 5 years. What we did have was fixed under warranty.


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